Pastoral in Busan by Steve Chang

Days

Today, I go walking to find these women after a winter of trying to forget you. I wanted to pity them, tired of pitying myself.

 

I remembered them as impoverished people, harvesting river weeds out of hunger. But remembering is sometimes a willful act. Today, they’re working calmly by the stream, bending and picking. Some are resting cross-legged on folding mats, sharing rolls of 김밥 and paper cups of 막걸리.

 

I walk by slowly. I have to think, today, that by picking plants, they must be transported to a mood or memory from youth and its rituals, to another world layered upon ours.

 

It’s the way I still think sometimes while driving my scooter of you perched behind me, of the feeling that anything was possible, that the simplest drive was really a grand adventure. And even if the seasons turned bitter and cold, I could look back to find you there, smiling, holding onto your ill-fitting helmet with one hand—the way I’m writing again and still as if to reach you, as if by the end I could summon you here.